One of three men charged with carrying out the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is weighing his options after the government rejected his offer of information in exchange for immunity. 

Vincent Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, will be meeting with his lawyer Marc Sant later this week after the alleged hitman’s request for a presidential pardon was turned down. 

“We are still in the dark as we have not officially been informed of any decision over the pardon request we made a year ago,” Sant said.

“That said, once a decision is communicated, we will assess what other options are available to us going forward.”

Sant later added that he was expecting to receive formal notice of the government’s decision from President George Vella in the coming days.

Times of Malta reported on Wednesday that ministers have turned down Muscat’s pardon request following a cabinet meeting on Monday. 

No details on why cabinet decided to turn down pardon

Prime Minister Robert Abela had last year said he was seeking advice on whether he should recuse himself from the decision after it was revealed he previously provided legal services to those Muscat named in exchange for the pardon. Abela refused to say, when asked by reporters on Wednesday, whether he had recused himself while the cabinet was considering whether to grant Muscat a presidential pardon.

Instead, he repeatedly told Times of Malta he was precluded from commenting on issues discussed at cabinet level. When it was pointed out to him that he had last year confirmed he would be consulting over whether he should abstain from the decision, Abela again said he could not comment. 

“Even if you ask me a hundred times, I won’t be able to comment,” he said when questioned outside Castille.

In 2019, former prime minister Joseph Muscat had abstained from taking a decision on a similar pardon requested by alleged murder mastermind Yorgen Fenech and let cabinet take the decision without him. 

He recused himself after Fenech named former chief of staff Keith Schembri as the mastermind of the murder. 

Abela also refused to give details on why the cabinet decided to turn down the pardon request and whether President George Vella had been asked for his position on the matter. 

When pressed to say what the president had to say about the matter, Abela said questions should be directed to Vella.

Muscat is one of three men, along with brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio, facing charges of planting and setting off the bomb that killed the journalist outside her Bidnija home in October 2017

He denies the charges and in December 2019 formally requested the pardon in exchange for information about the murder and other major crimes which he has detailed to the police in hours of recorded interviews with investigators. 

Times of Malta last year revealed that Muscat’s information included at least one Labour Party politician.

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